As presidential election campaigning begins in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has announced the successful launch of a sophisticated mid-range missile.

Is this a demonstration of power by the incumbent president to gain an edge over competitors?

It is hard to tell whether the launch was deliberately provocative, but the fact that it was announced by the president means it is probably intended as a political message from his home province to boost his image during campaigning, and show the support he enjoys by the strong religious establishment.

We ask whether a different president would make any difference as far as the West's worries are concerned, and whether there is a candidate favoured by the West.

How significant are foreign policy issues and what are their likely impact on the Iranian voter? How are the new US administration's good will gestures being perceived by the Iranians?

Our guests for this show are Rami Khouri, the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, Joshua Goodman, the head of research at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracy, and Syed Mohamed Marandi, a professor of Political Science at Tehran University.

This epside of Inside Story aired on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera